tv [untitled] May 28, 2012 10:00am-10:30am EDT
tweet from tracy who asks, is there a specific piece of information or an artifact that you hope to find? >>. >> i know what you want. >> mine, yeah. i think i take a lot of heat for this. we haven't found a complete cannon yet. that's up there. >> we found a muzzle of one but that's not good enough for him. >> not good enough. >> it blew up when it was fired. >> of there an artifact you'd like to find? >> go ahead, you go. >> goodness gracious. we have almost found everything you can imagine from straight pins to guns. i love them all. so that's a hard question for me. >> here's to williamsburg, virginia, jeff, go ahead with your comment or question. >> hi, dr. kelso. i met you and the curator a couple years ago. my name is yef. my question is, from 1607 to
1699, and i understand that a lot of the records burned, but there were quite a number of ships that arrived in jamestown, probably 100 or 1,000. is there any detailed book that you used in your research that describes those ships arriving and possibly who was on those ships during that time period? >> it's -- well, to my experience it's scattered in the records. you wouldn't -- there is no comprehensive list that i know of. >> they're not complete either. yeah, there are some passenger lists. but unfortunately -- no one's compiled it all. >> we'll get -- >> won't have survived. >> one more comment here. question from lisa in sacramento, california. hi. >> hi. i had heard that john rolf was the one responsible for bringing tobacco growing in virginia. i was just wondering if that was
true or not. thanks. >> yes, in fact, we believe that he was inspired by the time he was ship wrecked in bermuda, which occurred between 1609 and 1610, he spent ten months in bermuda, where they found tobacco growing when had he ship wreck there had. and so it seems to me and others as well, that he spent that time working with the tobacco. we also found a couple of tobacco pipes made out of bermuda limestone that was probably made to smoke tobacco on bermuda. then he continued his work once he arrived here. we even found a tobacco seed down a well which is pretty cool because they're microscopic, very hard to see. >> we want thank both of you, bligh and james kelso for spending the last hour and moreing with american history tv and taking our viewers, callers and comments. we really appreciate it.
>> okay. >> okay, thank you. we do too. >> thanks. >> on may 14th, 1607, 104 english settlers landed at jamestown island, virginia to establish a col if i for the virginia company. the location served as the capital of v till 1699. thought to be lost to history forever under the james river, the original fort was unearthed in 1994 by the jamestown rediscovery archaeological project. we visited jamestown to learn how the story of the 1607 settlers is being revealed every day through the study of artifacts. >> my name is blythe straub, the senior curator for the discovery project. that's a project that started in 1994. it's a project of prchbvation, virginia. the first statewide historic preservation organization in the united states. it is confusing that there are so many james towns and many
people visit jamestown and it turns out that they never went to the real place. you know, the place where all the history happened. so there's a james two that's a living history museum, living history settlement and they interpret yams town and they will have three wonderful ships and they've reinstructed a fort and an indian vil and they have a huge museum over there. that is a state-run organization. so they get state funding for that. then the island itself, the original site of jamestown is comanaged by the national park service in preservation, virginia. so it's an unusual public private partnership that goes on here. the park service owns the majority of the island, 1500 acres. preservation, virginia, has around 23. but their 23 acres incorporates the site of the original fort. the church, the church tower,
and the last government building that was on the property. so they've got a lot of history condensed in that 23 acres. and it's the it's preservation, virginia, who are doing the archaeology that visitors will see on the site today. we call our project jamestown rediscovery. so we're the jamestown rediscovery project of preservation, virginia. we do not get federal support and we do not get state support for our work. so we're highly reliant on donations, visitors coming because we get half of the gate receipts from visitors coming through. and grants. that's how we survive. and it's hard in these times. this site is incredibly rich. it's just amazing. and we've been walking over the
material all these years, you know, it's been under our feet when everyone was saying the fort was out in the river. it's just astounding that there's so much material. and i thought about why. for one thing, there was so much death in the early years and sickness and i think a lot of things just got thrown away because they didn't blochk to people anymore. they sort of were objects, possession without a possessor, and people just didn't have the strength or will power to do much of anything. we found a lot of lead thrown away that could have been remelted and reused, recycled and it wasn't. just tossed out. i think that's one reason. i think the fort itself being a protective barrier maintained a lot of trash within its perimeter that didn't seem to be nel orchestrate d effort to
wheelbarrow the trash out and toss it in the river or anything. it just seems to have collected inside the fort and then there were periodic clean-up periods and rebuilding is efforts when new governors came in, for instance and then twhoings get dumped into old wells or old holes to fill them in. so, i think that also contributed to it. but, yeah, it's a wonderful, wonderful site. we have ceramics from all over the world. and this is really reflecting how cosmopolitan london is in the early 17th century and how connected it was, you know, to the rest of the world, to the mer chance of the world. it's not representing these different countries trading directly with jamestown. some of the objects are personal possessions and a lot of our gentlemen would have access to these exotic wares from other places. and even though they were coming to settle a very uninhabited and
lonely place, you know, unconnected with any society really, they were bringing their best materials to eat from and to drink from. we've got viennese glass and chinese porcelain, you can see that porcelain here that they're bringing. so, it's really a different picture of jamestown than one would expect. it's rather wealthy in some regards. colorful. we've got professions like jewelers sitting in the fort and making jewelry. i mean, not all was death and dying and killing indians. we find a lot of their leisure time activities. lots and lots of gaming dice. and chess pieces and backgammon
pieces. musical instruments. so, it's from all sort of facets of their life being reflected here. the people visiting historic jamestown have the opportunity to come in and look up close at the artifacts. they have to sign up, called a curator's tour, and we give them the whole orientation, what we do with artifacts behind closed doors, so it's a unique opportunity to get an up-close look. they can ask questions. they can even at times touch 400-year-old artifacts, you know, things that john smith may have used. so i think it's a pretty enriching experience for visitors. we only bring ten people through at a time. keep the group really small so that it's a better experience for everybody. the park itself once you come through the gate, you can wander the entire grounds. you can see the archaeology going on. we have a museum on site called the archiarium.
it's full of about 18,000 artifacts, all from the excavations. everything you can see from the excavations we've been doing since 1994. it's a unique place. there aren't that many archaeology museums in existence. so that's free, as well. you can sign up for a special tour if you like with our director dr. william kelso and that's called in the trenches tour. and that's a little extra and he takes you under the ropes. so you get an up-close and personal look from his perspective. >> how could something from american history and virginia history been lost for hundreds of years? >> that's an interesting question. i think it wasn't lost for probably the first 100. but nobody mentioned -- you know, didn't talk about it. at least any documents that survived, we don't know what's in there. and then there were travelers that came in here and said -- and there was a tremendous erosion on the west end of the island.
and they said, i can see remains of the fort being washed into the river. i read that about a week before i started, you know, oh, no. and so then it became just, you know, the story agreed upon. and i think, then, there was also a confederate earthwork here, a large earthen mound was all over most of what we found. the fort site. not right in here, but very close. and so there was no clue on the landscape that this was anything but the civil war fort. on a site like this, there are periods and eras and time changes. this is -- it was built in the civil war fort as a bomb proof or a bomb shelter for the confederate troops, the confederate forces built this fort as a good position on the river to set up their big guns
to stop the union from coming up the river. and they built things where they could hunker down in case they were shelled. and what you're seeing here is, if you look closely, there's some wood eversurviving. this was built as a below-ground wood room. and then on top they mounded and we've taken that off, but they've mounded at least six feet of clay so that that would absorb the impact of shells coming. so it would be bombproof. this is only about a third of it. it goes all the way back. you can see there's a hilltop beyond that black plastic and then there's a profile through another part of a room. the reason we excavated this, this is the 150th anniversary of the civil war and it also gives a perspective of the jamestown period. you know, it's just not one 1607 period here.
it's all of these different components. so we've learned something about the civil war fort, but we also learned about -- if you come around over to here, try not to get in your way. wait. just stand right here just for a second. i'm going to be right back. so, this is a great example of a fort on a fort. this dark area is the palisade line from 1607 that we found everywhere, all the way around. we found it the first year down along the river. and it's darker soil. i think you can see there's dark soil here and there's even some darker circular impressions where the upright logs had disintegrated. and we've traced that from the river all the way up to here.
this is a reconstruction-ish that doesn't go deep enough to expose this layer. you can't see it in profile. but it only goes down about here. and you see, it's a little off, and we did that on purpose. because we didn't want to disturb any of the remains that we haven't dug. a lot of times we'll uncover what we call features and map them for the future, and then cover them back up. we don't even dig them. we really don't have to. so, we know that the line was here anyway, but it's good. this gives you an example of this layer. then when the bomb proof was -- when the room was put in, it cuts through, and this is gone. from here until you get to the other side and then it picks up again. so a fort on a fort, that's the archaeological process. you have to look at the discolorations and evidence and get a time sequence by what layer cuts through or disturbs another layer. so, you go back in time. the latest disturbance is the latest thing and on down.
my name sul don warm can i, i'm one of the archaeologists on staff here but i do some conservation in the lab. basically we're out there from around the begin diagnose of april through the end of november. we usually are inside from, like, december through march. once the field season is done, you have all the artifacts that we found during the course of the year that have to be processed. you have reports to write up. you have things to catalog. we can't always be digging. and then you also have to research the items that you've found for any reports you want to have as far as new discoveries. so, i spend, like, 3 1/2 days out in the field and about a day and a half in the lab. >> what are some of the most exciting days or finds that you've had? >> i've been here a little over seven years, so there's been a number of things i've found.
but just like last week i was digging -- you're familiar with the corps de guard, it's one of the post holes there? the post hole when i was digging it out actually located a -- what you would call a petri dish inside the post hole. it was a glass dish about this large and about an inch, inch and a half deep. and it was totally intact. it was one of the only -- i think we had five or six totally intact objects from the site. so, it was kind of an exciting find. basically i had told a couple people what i had thought i had found out there and everybody came out to the site and had kind of a large audience of visitors there. so, everybody was around the site as i was taking it out. naturally the staff is telling me, don't break it, don't break it, don't break it.
>> is that a real concern, breaking it? >> initially when i found it, it was sitting in the post hole and i was uncovering it from the surface, so you could only see the rim. and i thought initially it was probably a piece of copper, you know, a copper waste strip. it was only when i had dug around the side of it that it had a depth to it and i realized that it was glass, so, yeah, i had to be a little bit more careful, then. but it turned out it was a pretty cool piece. >> you heard about the find of this little glass tray. this is really, really exciting. for one thing it's complete. and it's glass. how amazing is that, that it survived 400 years. it would have been clear. you can't see that now because of all the corrosion. you can just see a little bit through there. and so this came back into the lab and i did a little research on it.
and though i have not found any parallels from other archaeological excavations, i do believe what we have is a 17th century rendition of a petri dish. if you look right here, you can see one, a little glass dish being used to collect something that's being pressed in an alchemy lab where they are doing chemical processing. and this is dating to the late 16th century. you know, they were testing all kinds of materials to try to make a profit for the investors. so this may have been involved with perhaps the medical group who were here looking for plants they could turn into medicines. and to do that, you're pounding and mashing and distilling all kinds of leaves and nuts and anything you can get your hands on, roots, and you could easily,
you know,maker samples into little dishes like this. we would call this a petri dish today, but julius petri is a 19th century german scientist, so it was a little before his time. and on the tables here, you can see a lot of native pottery, and i am in the process of trying to mend those together. with native pottery, it's a lit for difficult than other wares because the colors don't change too much. so this is a typical native pattern of our indians, you know, it's called simple stamping. so it's a leather-wrapped paddle that they're hitting the sides with. sometimes, then, they smooth that pattern out. that's a base of a pot there. you can see, everything gets numbered. all the little pieces get numbered with the area of the
fort where they were found. and that's one of the processes we do in the lab. and we keep track of those numbers. because if one feature should mend to another across the site, that's a very important thing to note, you know, if things from the well mend with things from the ditch, then that means that both those features were open at the same time. so, that's an important step. it's called cross mending. >> hi, i'm mary atwell, welcome to the laboratory of the jamestown rediscovery archaeological project. the artifacts come in from the field and are stored out here in systematic order until we can process them. in our wet laboratory. come on in. this is where we process artifacts as they come in from the field. we use just basic tools from our local hardware store, colanders
and washing tubs and a variety of brushes including toothbrushes, fingernail brushes, and vegetable brushes. and we use dissecting needles for cleaning out the holes inside stems. a typical artifact tray looks like this. it includes material from one layer and one feature on the site. and these are some of the typical artifacts that we find archaeologically. we find coal. a lot of clinkers from the looming process, iron making process that occurred here at jamestown in the early 1600s. lots of iron that comes in heavily corroded with iron
oxide. very difficult to identify at this stage. all different kinds of ceramics, including clay pipes that were made in england in europe and also locally. a variety of ceramics from all over the world, including delft wares, earthen wares from north devin, england. this little jar is probably from england or the netherlands and we find bricks, architectural bricks. a little bit of copper. now, this copper was brought in for trade with the indians, and we find tons of scrap copper from our archaeological features out here because they brought so much with them. and this is all scrap. all waste from the early 1600s. and here we have a little bone
knife handle that is from a little paring knife. if you think of a dutch still life of the 17th century, this is the kind of little knife that you would see in a dutch still life on the side of a plate with a peeled piece of fruit beside it. we also find a lot of bones. i don't have an example here. i don't know why. but we find lots of animal bones out here at jamestown, as well. the artifacts are placed in these racks. this is a scoot from a sturgeon. a sturgeon is a fish that's found in the james river, and they were prolific in the 17th century. when they spawned, they were about nine to 10 years old or older.
and that the age, which was the adult age of a sturgeon, they provided about 600 pounds of meat. they're about nine or ten feet long. we also find quite a bit of limestone from bermuda that was used in the ships from bermuda as ballast, and when it arrived at the island, it was used architecturally. and oyster shell is another commonly found material at jamestown. of course, they ate these oysters and subsequently used the oysters to provide lime for mortar and plaster. let's go on into our processing laboratory. our dry processing laboratory.
here i am sorting artifacts from the john smith well, and these few ceramic shards are from one of the upper layers of the well. john smith in 1608 ordered the colonists to dig a well. and in 1610, that well was filled in as the colonists left jamestown. had hoped to go back to england but they were met by a long boat in the chesapeake bay. and ordered to turn around the long boat belonged to lord delawar and announced his arrival. and so all the colonists came back and reoccupied james fort. these ceramics were made in the
period from about 1619 until about 1625. they were made by thomas ward. he came to jamestown in 1619. we have historical documentation for that. in and his kiln site was found here in the 1950s by john cotter on the national park service property, and these are some of this products that i'm trying to do minimum object counts. i do shard counts, that is i count all the fragments of this pottery type and i also do minimum object counts. and i do that by isolating rims and bases that belong together. and i can tell from looking at
these the different vessels that are represented in this layer from the well. this layer d. we've got milk pans represented. and a jug here with a nice little spread foot. a little turned up on the end there. very well made. a little drinking cup here. very thin. the fabric is identifiable because it is chalky and buff colored. it's james river clay. you can see there's quite a bit of a variety in the colors of the glazes. and that's just dependent upon the kiln conditions. a typical day here at jamestown consists of sorting and identifying objects and entering
them into our database, which is jamestown rediscovery. it was developed for us specifically here at jamestown. to date, we've catalogs over a million and a half artifacts. we probably have about that many to go that need to be cataloged. >> if a scholar is working on this material, what will do they do? what's their process? >> well, it is case by case basis. it's not just open to anyone and it's usually happening at the graduate or postgraduate level. but they would contact us and give us their research plan and you know what they intended to do and because we are in the middle of a full scale excavation. so the the main priority is caring for the artifacts as they come in, keeping track of them, getting them cataloged, you know, we can't do everything. we can't just open the doors and
let everybody in because we're just in the middle of all this work. so yeah, it's you know, it's possible but it's not that frequent at this point because we're still you know, we're still processing the material. that's an interesting piece. a pistol that who knows where it's from. it's from somewhere on the preservation virginia property. it was kept in the national park service collections because we didn't have a collections area before our archaeological project got started. and it looks like it's been through a fire, it's burned. i believe it's early 19th century. it's still the cock still has a minute in the jaws. kind of interesting. but i wish i knew exactly where on the island, where on preservation property it was